How to Choose an Indexer

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sandy judd
by Sandra Judd

Book editor and indexer

Book Editing Associates

 

Your book needs an index. You’ve found a few indexers online, but how do you know which one is right for your book?

To begin with, you need to look for an indexer who has some experience. The person you hire should be able to provide you with the names of some of the books he or she has indexed, as well as the publisher names and dates of publication. Unless your book is especially complex, it is not always necessary that the indexer have experience with exactly the same type of book as yours, though that is an added plus, but you want your indexer to be thoroughly versed in the process of putting together an index, and that expertise can be gained only through repeated trips through that process. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Contacting previous employers is a good way to not only verify the veracity of the information that the indexer has provided you but also gain some insight into the quality of the work that the indexer has produced and his or her diligence in meeting deadlines.

You also need to look for an indexer who can accommodate your schedule. Keep in mind that preparing an index is an art that requires a number of careful reads through the entire manuscript, and that this process takes some time. Also note that most freelance indexers are working on more than one manuscript at a time and will not be able to devote full time to any one. At the same time, your publisher is likely to have a pretty firm schedule, so you will need to find an indexer who can work within that time frame. Some negotiation between the three parties may be necessary. The time that it will take an indexer to prepare an index will vary depending on the length and complexity of the manuscript to be indexed, but the more advance notice that you are able to give a potential indexer, the more likely he or she will be to have the ability to meet your deadline.

Finally, you need to find an indexer who can work within your budget. That being said, indexers are professionals who need to be able to live on the fees they charge for their services. You cannot expect them to work for free. Though some indexers set their fees on an hourly or lump sum basis, most prefer to set their fees based on the number of indexable pages in a manuscript, with an indexable page being any page that will need to be considered for inclusion in the index. Title pages, end notes, and bibliography pages are generally excluded (unless the end notes are particularly substantive) from this number. If you need your index on very short notice, you can expect to pay considerably more per page.

The indexer that is right for you will be one who can most closely meet all of these requirements. If you choose carefully, you should be happy with the end result.

Copyright Sandra J. Judd


SANDY JUDD has edited or proofread over 300 published books, on topics that include politics, history, business, literary criticism, ethnic history, anthropology, science and medicine, industry manuals, memoirs, Christian and inspirational, parenting and relationships, humor, and fiction (additional topics/genres below). Her clients have included university presses, large, mainstream publishers, and smaller presses and professional organizations. She has edited 20+ volumes in the Health Reference Series published by Omnigraphics, all published under her name as editor. She has also edited professional journals and newsletters, business plans, scholarly articles being prepared for publication, economic plans to be distributed to the state legislature, and a number of dissertations.

She has prepared indexes for more than 30 published books.

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